Creating vintage videos (on a budget)
Always a winner, the vintage video has a warmth and charm about it that the contemporary and futuristic simply doesn’t have. Across the board, the appeal of vintage hasn’t died down and only seems to be getting stronger. Time and time again we’re seeing brands tap into the vintage trend - just look at big fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana, Ted Baker et al, who seamlessly merge the vintage with the modern in their ads. Many psychologists and cultural commentators have waxed lyrical over our obsession with the past, and put it down to a desire for stability and the presence of something familiar in our lives. For the majority of us the future doesn’t look bright, but scary, so vintage, be it clothing, decor or media, helps to placate the fear of an unstable future.
It’s easy to create something that invokes the vintage aesthetic in your videos, but as with everything it requires a good level of creativity. Now, unless you have an old 8 or 16mm cine camera and are willing to go through the laborious task of transferring the raw film footage to digital, then Premiere Pro and After Effects are going to be your best friend.
But first, let’s focus on the filming itself. As a rule of thumb, natural light is going to work best for creating a vintage video, as you can really enhance the lighting effects in your chosen editing software. What people love about vintage videos is that nostalgic warmth and unique look. You can go for something that’s dreamy and has an old home movie vibe, or take inspiration from the big screen and go for an all out technicolor extravaganza.
If you really want to get a good vintage effect, then, as Caleb Ward suggests, purchasing a vintage lens will get you off to a great start. “Unlike modern lenses, vintage lenses tend to distort colors around the edge of the frame”, he says. “A phenomenon called chromatic aberration, typically you’ll find lots of chromatic aberration in older or cheaper lenses. This isn’t ideal for modern video projects, but it’s perfect for creating a vintage look. You can usually pick up a vintage lens on eBay for around $50 and buy an adapter to fit whatever mount your camera uses.”
Once you have the footage in your software, you can add film grains and light leaks - the latter are especially good for creating an old style effect. Vashi Visuals have created a list of sites to download free film grains and light leaks, saying: “an easy way to make your project look more ‘cinematic’ is to overlay film grain, light leaks or other film-specific attributes. They can be used to emulate film stock, create transitions or for experimental and aggressive looks.”
On to the software, Caleb Ward gives some tips on using After Effects to its full potential, without requiring too much effort. “Creating convincing vintage effects in After Effects is more about subtle tweaks than over-the-top colour changes. However, many artists feel like simply applying a preset is all you need to create a great vintage effect — but that’s simply not the case. Sure, presets can be a great starting point, but if you really want your vintage effects to look convincing, it’ll require patience and an eye for detail.”
The same principles apply when you’re working in Premiere Pro, however, this software gives you more of a free reign to experiment. Spoon Graphics provide a great tutorial on getting the right vintage look for your video!